Songwriters: Shawn Camp and Marv Green
Nowhere is it written that a great summer song–even a great country summer song–must be about beer and girls and trucks. In fact, from a purely competitive standpoint, one of the smartest things a writer of a fun summer song could do is make it about something else entirely, such that it might less readily bleed into the sea of sun-crisped contenders that begin hitting the airwaves around this time of year.
Dealing in precisely the same subject matter as “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” “Love Done Gone” takes a dramatically different tack, trading in all the soul-searching lyricism of Sweeney’s song for matter-of-fact acceptance and celebration. In doing so, it focuses almost exclusively on the exhilarating part of moving beyond a relationship that, for whatever reason, simply was not working anymore. It’s a less multifaceted view of the breakup situation, certainly, but ultimately quite an infectious one.
With lyrics as vague about future plans as they are about causes of the split (“it ain’t nothing we ever said or ever did wrong/It’s just love done gone“), much of the song’s message comes via its sound, a lively fusion of contemporary country and Dixieland jazz (complete with horns and–oddly but memorably–backing vocals that mimic them) signaling greener pastures ahead. Currington is right in his mid-tempo sweet spot here, and the obvious ease with which he settles into the song’s carefree groove reinforces the impression that this particular parting, little as we actually know about it, was definitely for the best. Otherwise, why would he sound so darn happy?
In keeping with the theme of “love done gone,” the lyrics of the chorus are filled out by examples of things disappearing suddenly. Such a simple conceit could be a recipe for disaster, but thankfully the examples used are of generally high quality: “dogwood blossoms in a late spring rain,” “disappearing bubbles in a glass of champagne,” “a red kite lost in a blue sky wind.” Those are some fairly vivid, memorable images for a song whose most immediate ambition is sounding catchy.
He might push the horns back a bit and nix the cheesy vocal backing, but the song itself wouldn’t sound out of place in George Strait’s recent discography, which probably bodes well for its chances at becoming Currington’s seventh #1 single. If that does come to pass, no complaints here.
New Releases (April 19): Ralph Stanley, Robyn Ludwick & Zoe Muth; Sunny Sweeney For Free; Hayes Carll & Amanda Shires On Daytrotter
- Sunny Sweeney‘s “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” is the iTunes Free Single of the Week. (Check out Blake Boldt’s review here on The 9513)
- Over at Country California, CM listed his favorite tracks from albums that were for the most part released in March. I’ll get a jump on him and say I hope Zoe Muth‘s “If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart)” makes his April list.
- Music Fog:
- Country California: Quotable Country – 04/17/11 Edition
- Daytrotter posted a couple of cool sessions form Amanda Shires (can’t go wrong with the “Train” song) and Hayes Carll.
- Country Universe’s Leeann Ward reviewed the self-titled debut from Craig Campbell favorably:
The combination of [Keith] Stegall’s spot on arrangements, Campbell’s commanding baritone, and the song’s sing-able melodies provides a very fulfilling sonic experience for the listener who longs to hear unapologetic country music in the mainstream again. In fact, the brightest spot on the album is a severe, though sincere, indictment on the current state of country music that simply concludes, “If you gotta tell me how country you are, you prob’ly ain’t.”
The Electric Earmuff posted a few videos from a recent Justin Townes Earle concert at The Basement in Nashville, including performances of “Ain’t Glad I’m Leavin’,” “Ain’t Waitin’,” and “I Don’t Care.” (via Nashville Cream)
Songwriters: Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush and Kevin Griffin
This is where the machine needs a little more oil. On the third single from The Incredible Machine, Sugarland trades bare emotional honesty for bad inspirational goop that hardly satisfies those who look to the duo for their humorous and heartfelt recordings.
“Tonight” centers on one of country music’s most reliable subjects: unrequited love. There’s such promise in hearing Jennifer Nettles’ declaration of devotion in the opening lines (“If words could make it real/I’d tell you how I feel”) that what follows is a disappointment. Only rarely does she fully describe the pain of being separated from her beloved: “A lifetime for a day would be an even trade,” she sings in one passage. An odd admission, but one that might begin to divulge her devastation.
“Tonight,” with its mix of weighty emotions, is consistently dull in content. The repeated uttering of the title line, each more impassioned than the other, grows grating as the song ticks past the two-minute mark. On 2008′s Love on the Inside, Sugarland also employed a number of sparsely-worded choruses based on emotion rather than poetry. The effect makes “Tonight” feel unfocused, without an anchor.
Even Nettles, one of the most capable singers in the genre, gives a below-par performance. Surrounded by the intense arrangement, she feels smothered and made to sing above the noise. The drum sections here are sterile, and lend an anonymous quality to the recording. The elongated vowels and gentle sighs of Nettles’ twang have always been her hallmarks as a song stylist; now she forgoes finesse and grace for powerful fury.
As the duo (Kristian Bush is largely absent from “Tonight”) progresses through this album cycle, country fans can catch up to their dizzying array of musical tricks. “I’m waiting for, waiting for you,” Nettles begs on more than one occasion. She could be singing as much to her audience as to her man. The response might not be what she was wishing for.
Listen: Sugarland – “Tonight”
Today marks Record Store Day, a day-long celebration of independent music store retailers, limited-edition releases and in-store performances. This week, the Chicagoist took a look at the history and business sides of the “holiday”:
Founded in in 2007 by individuals from several corners of the music industry — including education, A&R, and promotions — Record Store Day’s original purpose was to “celebrate independently-owned record stores com[ing] together with artists to celebrate the art of music.” The day’s events are usually marked by in-store performances, artist meet-and-greets, and of course, (usually on vinyl, but also on CD or video). Promotion, media attention and a bump in foot traffic (at least for that one day) are a boon for indie record shops, which RSD organizers define as “a retailer whose main primary business focuses on a physical store location, whose product line consists of at least 50% music retail, whose company is not publicly traded and whose ownership is at least 70% located in the state of operation.”
Still, the event has also been criticized as a shameless cash-grab. Often merchandise of questionable real “collector-level”–or even consumer-level–value are promoted like must-own items: 7″ picture discs of a group’s hit single, re-releases on colored vinyl or superfluous box sets are common offenders. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide what value they wish to assign to something like Karen Elson’s “Vicious/”In Trouble with the Lord” 7″, which comes peach scented with peach colored rose petals inside the record.
Another gray area exists in whether special releases marketed as “rare” are indeed that; sometimes “limited” is all that needs to be said to incite fans to snap up a particular release because of its perceived scarcity. When an item like is “limited” to 5,000 copies, rarity becomes a bit relative.
The Saving Country Music blog notes that while “country music might ignore” Record Store Day, there are still a few country artists – including Justin Townes Earle and Whitey Morgan & The 78′s – offering special deals and performing at indie retailers.
Are you celebrating Record Store Day, and are there any country releases or performances that have caught your eye? Do you think it’s a marketing ploy, a way to support indie retailers and good music, or some combination of both? Do you think country music ignores or is underrepresented on Record Store Day?
For the first twenty minutes of his show at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge, Texas singer-songwriter Hayes Carll didn’t care much for small talk. Songs like “Hard Out Here” and “Trouble in Mind” passed by with barely a word uttered between them. Carll’s clever brand of country-rock, featuring incisive songwriting reminiscent of heroes Ray Wylie Hubbard and Robert Earl Keen, said about all he needed to say.
Carll, a Houston native who now resides in Austin, would have good reason to crow about his recent accomplishments. His fourth album, KMAG YOYO (And Other American Stories) debuted at No. 12 on the country albums chart in February, and five of his songs were featured in the recent motion picture Country Strong. After a few songs, Carll seemed more comfortable on stage, referring to “a recession or depression or whatever” and expressing his gratitude for all the ticket buyers in the audience.
The majority of the set list stemmed from his breakthrough album, 2008′s Trouble in Mind, but he reached back to his 2005 album Little Rock for a rambunctious version of its title track, and then he supplied his laconic drawl to the laidback “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long.”
Adding a lively burst to the evening was Cary Ann Hearst, half of the opening act called Shovels and Rope, who duets with Carll on KMAG YOYO’s “Another Like You.” On a song that explains how alcohol and sex can trump politics, her tangy Southern-bred vocals served as a perfect counterpoint to Carll’s grumbling baritone.
He used the 80-minute performance to preview a new song: the tongue-in-cheek “One Bed, Two Girls, and Three Bottles of Wine” likely needs no further explanation. There were signs of better behavior, though: announcing that it was his wife’s 33rd birthday, he praised her for putting up with a traveling musician and eased into the sad but hopeful ballad “Willin’ to Love Again.”
Carll and his five-piece band, The Poor Choices, were predictably on point. Utility man Scott Davis laid the groundwork, leading the band on uptempo romps like “Stomp and Holler” (the audience accepted the challenge) and “KMAG YOYO.” The frontman has learned a musical trick or two, too: before “I Got a Gig,” Carll pulled out the banjo to perform what he said was the one song he’d learned on the instrument.
One notable omission on Thursday night was “She Left Me for Jesus,” the 2008 Americana Music Association’s Song of the Year. It’s a testament to the strength of Carll’s material that its absence didn’t leave a big void in the evening.
Songwriters: Jessi Alexander, Gary Nicholson and Jon Randall
Country audiences didn’t seem to care for all the women that Reba is. Her awkward remake of Beyonce’s 2008 R&B hit, “If I Were a Boy,” stalled out at No. 22 on the singles chart last month.
The third single from her latest studio album, All the Women I Am, looks to erase the memory of that poor chart performance. “When Love Gets Ahold of You,” with its spaghetti western-meets-Pulp Fiction vibe, will likely stand out in the crowd of loud summertime anthems.
The ominous arrangement is spiked with a series of elongated guitar licks, an appropriate choice for the material. On “When Love Gets a Hold of You,” Reba rhapsodizes about the most universal of emotions–love–and the improbability of stopping it in its path. Her infatuated man friend tries in vain to fend off her advances: “Before you have your first cup of coffee/You’re gonna pick up the phone and call me.” With each zinging shot at her future beau, the steel guitar wraps around the melody and weakens his resistance.
In her confident way, Reba expresses this sentiment as both a promise and a threat. Her friendly tone turns more forceful in the chorus, where her Oklahoma twang curls across the lyric just a little more. “It’s just a matter of time,” she sings. “It’s gonna hit you right between the eyes.” All the while, she sounds certain that she’ll get this eligible bachelor off the market. A supporting cast of harmony singers echo her thoughts in the song’s coda, almost mocking the man’s insistence on staying single.
While it won’t hang in the rarified air of Reba classics such as “Whoever’s in New England” or “Is There Life Out There,” “When Love Gets a Hold of You” is a solid base hit for the Hall of Fame singer.
Although I had listened to country music for many years and had occasionally been able to purchase a 45 rpm or two, the summer of 1968 was the first time I had a summer job and was able to purchase records on a regular basis. My place of work, the Beach Theater on Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach, was about a thirty second walk away from a record store that carried a good supply of country 45s. Although I quickly switched over to collecting albums, my first purchase that summer was the Jack Greene single “Love Takes Care of Me,” a song which remains one of my all-time favorites. In fact, I had the lyrics of the song memorized by the time I’d heard it twice.
Jack Greene was born on January 7, 1930, in Maryville, Tennessee. From there he moved to Atlanta where he performed for a number of years before moving to Nashville in 1959, where he formed his own band — The Tennessee Mountain Boys, serving as drummer and lead singer. Jack’s big break came in 1961 when his band opened for Ernest Tubb. Jack Drake, Ernest’s bass player and band leader, noticed Greene’s talents and auditioned him for the band (Greene told Tubb biographer Ronnie Pugh that his knowledge of diesel mechanics may have played into the hiring decision as well). For the next few years, he was a drummer, guitarist, vocalist, and front man for the Texas Troubadours.
Before long, he was playing guitar and singing as an opener for Tubb, who believed in promoting his band members’ careers; certain ones received occasional spots on his albums and he also had the band record several albums of their own on Decca. In 1964, Jack released his first solo record on Decca with “The Last Letter,” which was followed by “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurtin’ Me” in 1965 (the Ray Price version, released at the same time received most of the radio spins). Jack’s first Top 40 hit came in early 1966 with “Ever Since My Baby Went Away.” Later that same year, while still a member of the Texas Troubadours, he released his career-making record with the Dallas Frazier composition “There Goes My Everything.”
Alison Krauss & Union Station – Paper Airplane
Del McCoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band – American Legacies
Granger Smith – Poets & Prisoners
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Here We Rest
Mark McKinney – Home
The Train Wrecks – Saddle Up
Willie Nelson & Ray Price – Willie & Ray (Vinyl)
- Deborah Evans Price’s wrote a cover story on Brad Paisley and his new album for Billboard. Here’s his thoughts on the title track, “This Is Country Music:”
“The song itself is what inspired the album, which is the best way to have an album come about,” Paisley says as he sinks into an overstuffed chair at home on his 85-acre spread outside Nashville. ” ‘This Is Country Music’ is track one. It sets the tone. And from then on, all the songs on the album fill certain slots and paint the rest of the picture. It’s almost like that’s the opening credits, and then you have the rest of the movie to follow.”
- The new Del McCoury album is available for streaming on his website.
- Country California: Quotable Country – 04/10/11 Edition
- Juli Thanki interviewed Eric Gibson of The Gibson Brothers for DC Noise.
- 20 Questions with Gary Floater:
How much more unreleased material are you sitting on? Will we see a Tupac scenario where even years after your death there will be new Gary Floater material released?
Johnny Cash is still going strong and I heard he only died a few years ago. I’ve got songs stuffed in the walls and buried in the yard. I’d like to see ‘em try to find em all.
Sometimes I whisper my songs to old ladies at the grocery store for safekeeping. The only safe way to write a song is in the steam on the shower door. And in fact, thousands of my songs are unrecorded.
Also…I don’t know what you mean about a two-pack scenario…I usually buy a twelve-pack and when it’s gone it’s gone brother. No tears can bring those beers back to life, and I’ve tried.
- Sara Evans recently performed in Walmart’s Soudcheck studio.
- Jake Owen‘s single “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is available for purchase on iTunes.
- Free Download: Max Stalling – “Fantasy Dinner”
- Farce the Music: Country Day April ’11
Your enjoyment of Aaron Lewis’ EP, Town Line, is directly proportional to how much you enjoy his debut country single, “Country Boy.” If you loved the down-home, don’t-tread-on-me sentiments, then are you ever in luck, because the song shows up three times on a seven-track album. If you thought it was a pandering, turgid tune that relied on catchphrases and hackneyed imagery in place of any real emotional investment, then you’re going to find yourself using the skip button on your stereo frequently.
Lewis, front man for the hard rock band Staind, hit #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart the week that Town Line was released, and “Country Boy” features contributions from George Jones and Charlie Daniels–not a bad way to start a country career. Musically, it resembles the solo work from another crossover artist, Darius Rucker. While Staind and Hootie and the Blowfish might not sound much alike, the country efforts from Lewis and Rucker both rely heavily on how lucky they are, how grateful they are for their families and how much they love their home.
For the most part, Lewis successfully avoided making a “Staind with a fiddle” record. Dobros and steel guitar are prevalent, and the electric guitar never drowns out Lewis’ voice. It’s an interesting statement about the genre when a rock star sounds downright traditional when compared to some of the current chart-toppers. Content-wise, Lewis adds in a little Tea Party flavor by including several references to gun rights, but outside of that, there’s not much to separate him from most other country vocalists.
“Country Boy,” the lead single, is presented in its original version, a radio edit and an unplugged version. It attempts to, in order, establish Lewis’ country credibility (he came from a small town, owns a tractor and likes hunting), detail his dealings with evil record executives in Los Angeles (he won’t turn his back on his family) and state his patriotism while simultaneously distrusting the government. It concludes with a bizarre monologue from Charlie Daniels, who says he loves his country, his guns and his family (in that order?) while threatening to stand up against any attempts to change the way things are. As a campaign theme, the Republican candidates will be fighting over it, as it evokes all the necessary imagery. As a song, it’s angry, droning, and polarizing.
Town Line is laced with references to Lewis’ New England home. Admittedly, after hearing countless references to Southern hills, hollers, boondocks, sticks and hicks, it’s refreshing to hear Lewis singing about the natural beauty and history of Massachusetts and Vermont. Unfortunately, those differences are just cosmetic. Change the references to Red Sox caps and the Berkshire Mountains in “Massachusetts” to cowboy hats and the Smoky Mountains, and it can easily turn into “Tennessee.”
There are two songs that don’t sound like Lewis was working off of a checklist of things that belong in country music (references to children, check; mention American flag, check), and they end up being the best two of the bunch. “Tangled Up in You,” originally recorded by Staind, successfully translates to the country genre. “Vicious Circles” is a nicely written relationship ballad that also stretches out Lewis’ vocal range. If he wants to record more of those types of songs, then he would be a welcome addition to the ever-expanding world of country music. As it stands now, Lewis’ background is more interesting than most of what’s on his EP.
- Jack Hanford: For those who are interested, there is a new 90-minute documentary video about Tompall & the Glaser Brothers on DVD …
- joe morris: how come nobody mentions his fan club which started 1950 and was called the " the penny pushers " which …
- jane: I'm reading this article in 2013 and I've yet to hear anything from the album played on the radio.....
- Catwandy: I guess Matt C. is eating his well-deserved crow 'bout now. Critics....gotta love 'em , bless their little hearts.
- Ed McClendon: Saw the brothers in Greeley CO on the occasion of Tompall's 50th birthday. The show wasn't well promoted and there …
- Roby Fox: I'm sure no one else will know, or even care about this little tidbit of trivia. "Keep Your Change" was …
- kate wonders: Roni Stoneman is still on Hee Haw every Sunday night on RFD channel.
- Marsha Blades: Tommy, You were so kind to me during a tough time in my life and I don't think I ever …
- Leona Jones: I seen Chris at the Grand Ole Opry last week.. First time I have heard of him.. He rocked the …
- Sonicjar Music: Agree with Lucas, But one thing is certain, for a song to come to existence, so many things have to …